The Sacramento Kings couldn’t hold on late against the Los Angeles Lakers team that looked nothing like a Championship contender. The Kings fell victim to two very questionable calls in the final minutes of the game, but should not feel as though they were outplayed.
The Kings outplayed the Lakers for a majority of the game, but as they fell behind late in the third quarter, the Kings simply seemed to run out of gas. This in combination with several questionable calls late in the fourth quarter, a far too familiar result occurred. The Lakers held on, beating the kings with the help of officiating that has always seemed to lean in the favor of the Lakers.
All five of the Kings starters scored in double digits, yet they only managed 19 assists to the Lakers 28. The Kings stopped sharing the ball, and committed eight turnovers in the second half. The Kings had only 3 turnovers in the first half, and led the ball game 53-57. The Kings however stopped finding each other for easy baskets, and were outscored 29-18 in the third quarter.
Pau Gasol seemed to wake up as he had a very efficient game scoring 12 points on 6-11 shots, and dishing out 10 assists. Kobe Bryant however led the team in assists with 14, as well as scoring 19 points. Dwight Howard also had a big game with 24 points on 10-14 shooting and 15 rebounds.
The Kings simply didn’t have enough in the final quarter, as they stopped passing the ball, and making plays for each other. This could be the final chapter of the KIngs Lakers rivalry, and while some have debated the legitimacy of the rival, the only proof you ever needed was the intensity of a Kings Lakers game. Neither team has ever liked one another, and the overall franchise record has never played a driving role in the rivalry.
Sacramento may not have gotten the best of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, but if this is the last game he plays in Sacramento, he could easily admit one thing; Kobe has always hated losing here. As someone who has been going to Kings games for almost 20 years, i can say two things. 1) I easily hate Kobe Bryant as the Kings Killer he has always been and his ability to almost always hit the big shots when his team needs them most. 2) With the exception of Michael Jordan himself and maybe Lebron James(someday), I have watched Kobe Bryant become perhaps one of the games most prolific scorers, champions, and true talents of the game. It only feels right the he passes Wilt Chamberlain and moves into third place on the NBA’s All-Time Scoring Leader Board in Sacramento. Its as simple as one thing. The emotion attached to the history of Kings Lakers games is one involving questionable officiating, food poisoning, officiating scandals, and two cities undying love for their teams. Championships have been won and lost due to these teams history. Every true Kings fan either remembers the heartbreak of the Robert Horry Shot, or has heard the story.
Tonight’s game means more than a win or a loss to Kings players and fans. With The April meeting and Board of Governors meeting looming, Kings fans showed their faith in a sold out game tonight. Several Kings fans lingered after the game, left to wonder what will happen to their beloved team.
The city of Sacramento has made a tremendous push to keep their team. The City Council of Sacramento voted 7-2 in favor of Building a new arena in Downtown Sacramento. Two more major investors have joined the effort in keeping the Kings in Sacramento, thus making the financial side of the deal more appealing while also presenting long term stability.
The Kings may have lost a heartbreaker tonight, but they played hard for a capacity crowd. The Kings have struggled noticeably since the Maloof’s public sale of the team to Seattle investors. With only five home games left in the season, expect every game to be a hard fought battle. The Kings need the support of their city, Kings fans must hope to show the NBA and its Board of Governors their un-dying support for their beloved team. The last nine games will certainly be fun.